On Wednesday, Tour de France organizer ASO presented the route and teams to this year’s Paris-Nice.
There was no Uno-X on the list.
The selections for the other races in the Tour de France organizer’s portfolio are often seen as an indication of which teams will be invited to the world’s biggest cycling race this summer.
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– We must take note of that
– It is of course a bit disappointing not to be invited to Paris-Nice. We had hoped for that. But then we can hope that it goes next time. We can not do much more with it, says cycling manager in Uno-X Mobility, Jens Haugland.
– How do you see the possibilities for a so-called wildcard (invitation) to the Tour now?
– The opportunities for wildcard to the Tour de France are marginally weakened now. That B&B Hotels-KTM gets the last place to Paris-Nice is a first signal that we are not very well placed on the trail. We just have to take note of that. I have always said that we get that place when we deserve it. I think we deserved it this year based on achievements and the fact that we are a Scandinavian project that is located where we do on the ranking with the focus and the identity we have. And then the organizers get to conclude accordingly.
The battle for invitations
All the time Uno-X is a so-called ProTeam, ie a team at level two in cycling, they are dependent on invitations to the biggest races.
The Tour de France, like Paris-Nice, will normally consist of 22 teams. 18 of those places automatically go to the teams at the top level, while two of the other places go to the two best ranked teams at level two (Alpecin-Fenix and Arkea-Samsic).
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The last two places the Tour organizer is free to give to whomever they want. The tradition is that those places go to French teams, which was the case in Paris-Nice with invitations to the French teams TotalEnergies and B&B Hotels-KTM.
In other words, the two French teams were given priority over Uno-X, and the fear is that the same will be the case when invitations are handed out to the Tour.
TotalEnergies, a traditional team with profiles such as Edvald Boasson-Hagen and Peter Sagan, is by virtue of just that in practice guaranteed a place in the Tour.
This means that Uno-X is in practice fighting with B&B Hotels-KTM for a place.
Kristoff: – Uno-X has a good enough team for the Tour
Alexander Kristoff’s new employer, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux, is a team at the top level and therefore automatically invited.
He thinks the Uno-X is sporty enough to be able to ride the Tour this summer.
– They have a good enough team if they top the team. They have. But they must probably be a little lucky if they are to get a place. There are quite a few around the leg, and there are many great teams that are ProTeams, such as TotalEnergies for example. It’s not just just getting access, says Kristoff.
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– That rule can be decisive
What can “save” Uno-X is whether the International Cycling Union (UCI) chooses to continue a rule they introduced last year.
Due to the pandemic’s effect on the cycling calendar and to ensure the viability of the teams at level two, the organizers of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España were given one extra invitation to their races.
So 23 teams, and not 22.
The new rule was initially only to apply for 2021, but there is uncertainty in the environment as to whether that rule will also apply in 2022 or not. The UCI has not responded to several inquiries from TV 2 as to whether the rule will be continued or not.
Should it be allowed to invite 23 teams, in other words there will be room for both the French teams and Uno-X.
– A continuation of the 23-team rule can be crucial. Then I think we had really good chances. But with 22 teams, we have to be realistic and hope that it becomes harder and harder to avoid us. I consider it to be up to ourselves and what we achieve in sports, says Haugland.
The invitations to the Tour de France are usually published in January / February